1964 – Fighting over Fishing

3 Nisqually Indians Get Suspended Jail Terms In Fish Case Daily Olympian
January 14, 19

TACOMA (AP)- Three Indians, conviced of illegal fishing on the Nisqually River in a case which has been going on through the courts for two years, were sentenced here Monday by Superior Court Judge Harden B. Soule.

Judge Soule sentenced all three to 30 days in the county jail, suspended on condition they refrain from illegal fishing (using nets) for a period of three years.

The trio includes Raleigh Kover, Jack Simmons, and Ernest Gleason, Sr., all three of whom live in the Nisqually area.

They were arrested along with other Indians fishing with nets for steelhead on the Nisqually January 6, 1962.

The other two were found innocent by Justice of the Peace Elizabeth Shackleford February 26, 1962. But the rest have been under charge since that time. Gleason and Kover appealed convictions to the Superior Court, Simmons was charged directly in Superior Court.

Judge Soule awaited a recent Supreme Court decision on a case involving fishing on the Skagit river before reaching his final determination of the case.

Indian Band Defies Game Department
Daily Olympian
January 22, 1964
by Mike Conant

It looks like more trouble along the Nisqually River.

State Game Department officials still were in a huddle Wednesday noon to decide what to do about a group of redmen who have chosen to ignore state borders and net fish where they please along the river.

This latest skirmish also has drawn the fire of officials of the Nisqually Indian Tribal Council, who disown the fishermen with the charge: “They’re not Nisquallys. They’re renegades.”

A spokesman for the State Game Department’s enforcement division reports that Walter Neubrech, division chief, was in conference Wednesday forenoon with department attorneys. He said they were deciding if action, either in the form of criminal proceedings or an injunction, would be taken to halt the fishing.

It was Neubrech’s division which two years ago this January arrested a half a dozen Indians on the Nisqually River. The charge was the men were non-treaty Indians and have no right under the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854 to fish the Nisqually. Some convictions followed the arrests.

Now the Game Department has additional backing from a recent State Supreme Court decision empowering it to curb Indian fishing with an eye toward conservation of salmon.

It was in the face of this newly acquired power that the Nisqually Tribal council last week agreed to fish only from the reservation side of the river.

About a dozen Indians defies new State Game Department restrictions in a ceremony which pledged their allegiance to the U.S. government, rather than state authority.

Place picked for the stand was Frank’s Landing, a non-reservation clearing at the lower part of the Nisqually River where Indian fishermen unload and sell their fish for commercial market.

The Indians lowered a white flag of truce staffed last week, and in its place unfurled the Stars and Stripes. Attached to the flagpole was a sign declaring, “We’re fishing under the treaty signed in 1854 with the U.S. Government.” Then at dusk, gillnets were set near the flag.

The landing is owned by Bill Frank, a Nisqually, who said of the Supreme Court decision: “The court didn’t say we had to stop, but only that the Game Department could control our fishing. We are catching mainly chum salmon, or dog salmon as some people call them, and a few steelhead.

“We have no trouble with Fisheries Department over catching chum salmon – only with sportsmen over the few steelhead we take. We’re not depleting the salmon.”

Backing Frank is Mrs. Janet McCloud, an Indian woman whose husband, Don, a Puyallup Indian, fishes the Nisqually. She opposes what she calls the Game Department’s theory that steelhead belong to the white men.

“They must think the steelhead swam over behind the Mayflower,” she said. “With or without the Indians’ help, the white man is going to deplete the salmon run – just like the buffalo.”

In contrast to the ceremonial revolt were statements by Reuben Wells, chairman of the Nisqually Tribal Council, and Mrs. Eleanor Kover, secretary.

Both said the tribal council has agreed for the time being to abide by Game Department restrictions against fishing off non-reservation land. Both assert the ceremony was staged by renegade Indians, who are not members of the Nisqually tribe.

Wells and Mrs. Kover say arguments with the Game Department will be fought through the courts, and not by an uprising. The pair was expected to meet Wednesday afternoon with David L. Esperance from the Everett office of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to decide their next move.

The problem of which Indian fishermen actually belong to the Nisqually tribe has been in focus ever since the Game Department’s series of arrests in January, 1962.

Wells and Mrs. Kover often have stated their opposition to statements by Mrs. McCloud, who they say is not a Nisqually and possesses no authority to speak for the tribe.

Mrs. Kover said it is the Tribal Council that for a long time has allowed non-member Indians to fish the river. “Now they are the ones who are causing all the trouble,” said she.

Brando Companion Free: Court Victory for Indians
Seattle Times
March 11, 1964

TACOMA. March 11-(UPI)- A Puyallup Indian who took Marlon Brando and a San Francisco preacher fishing in an effort to defy the law saw his case dismissed yesterday.

Bob Satiacum of Fife had been ordered to appear before Judge William LeVeque, who is presiding over the Pierce County Superior Court, to show why he should not face charges of contempt.

But Judge LeVeque dismissed the case on grounds that Satiacum was fishing only for his personal use and consumption” and not for commercial purposes.

The original court order, Judge LeVeque explained, only prohibited Indians from fishing commercially without first posting a $1,000 bond.

Brando and the Rev. John Yaryan were arrested by game protectors when they stepped ashore from a canoe after netting two steelhead in the Puyallup while accompanying Satiacum. Prosecutor John McCutcheon refused to file charges against them.

Janet McCloud, a Nisqually, announced that she and wives of five other Indians jailed for illegal fishing, would conduct a fish-in in the Nisqually at Franks Landing today.

Mrs. McCloud’s husband Don, along with Jack McCloud, Nugent Kautz, Herman Johns and Lavin Bridges are serving 30 days in the Pierce County jail for contempt of court because they defied a court order and dipped their nets into the Nisqually February 19 and again last Wednesday.

A sixth Nisqually, Bill Franks, Jr., was jailed today. He had been unable to participate in last Wednesday’s fish-in but violated the order yesterday, saying he wanted to join his tribesmen in jail.

Brando, S.F. Cleric, Indian Arrested for Fishing Illegally
March 2, 1964.

Marlon Brando, actor, and the Rev. Canon John Yaryan of San Francisco went fishing with an Indian in the Puyallup River this morning and were arrested by a representative of the State Game Department.

Brando, Canon Yaryan, of the staff of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco and Bob Satiacum, a Puyallup Indian from Fife, put their nets in the water from a long boat just north of Highway 99 at the Tacoma city limits.

The three caught two steelhead as they drifted a short distance down the river. Representatives of the State Game Department were waiting on the bank when the long boat reached the shore.

The actor and the clergyman were taken to the Pierce County jail to be charged with illegal fishing.

“Your purpose is to openly defy the state law?” the Game Department representative asked Brando.

” My purpose is to help these Indians, ” Brando replied.

Brando told the law-enforcement officer he was merely “helping some Indian friends fish.”

The Game Department representative told Brando: “I won’t argue with you. You should have your day in court. I think that’s what you’re looking for.” Brando, who was carrying one of the fish he had caught, handed it to an Indian friend and climbed into the Game Department car. A Game Department man took the fish.

An estimated 200 Indians waiting on the river bank glowered at the Game Department officials.

” You can’t do this to us. We have a treaty, ” one Indian woman yelled.

“What are you going to do with the fish, give them to some white man? ” a young Indian mother with a baby strapped to her back shouted.

“To hell with you!” another Indian woman shrieked at the officers.

The Indians clambered to look at the Game Department car, where Brando and Canon were being held.

“Just push those old white men out of your way. They won’t let you through,” one woman advised another.

Brando told newsmen he was not purposely looking for publicity, but merely helping the Indians maintain their treaty-guaranteed rights.

“They have little left, ” he said. “Everything has been taken from them. They intend to hang on to these fishing rights.” . . .

In Olympia, Governor Rosellini, said “the laws of the State of Washington are to be enforced uniformly without discrimination for or against our citizens of other states.”

“From the Information I get, this was a deliberate violation of the laws of the State of Washington as such the Game Department people had a responsibility to enforce the laws,” the Governor added.

Ellsworth Sawyer, a state game inspector, said the charge of illegally fishing carries a penalty of $250 to $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

In Olympia, John Biggs, director of the State Game Department, pointed out that Indians already are under injunctions forbidding them to fish the streams in violation of state conservation laws.

Indians assert they have treaty rights permitting them to fish in their usual and accustomed places.

Proud But Sad: Wife Cries as Indian Faces Jail to Assert Fish “Rights”
Seattle Times
March 5, 1964
by Marshall Wilson

“White men say squaws don’t cry; I’m not crying yet.” Mrs. Janet McCloud said yesterday morning on the banks of the Nisqually River. But tears were streaming down her cheeks as she said it.

Mrs. McCloud had just wished her husband, Don, good luck as he cast off in an Indian boat to tend his nets in defiance of a Pierce County Superior Court order.

“Five of our men will absolutely go to jail today,” Mrs. McCloud predicted. Her husband was one of the five.

The five men are already under 30-day sentences, suspended, for previous violation of court orders prohibiting off-reservation net fishing in “usual and accustomed places” as guaranteed in a treaty of 1854.

The McClouds, married for 13 years last month, are the parents of nine children whose ages range from two to 12 years.

“Don is our sole support,” Mrs. McCloud said. “He also supports my mother.”

The Nisqually group invited Marlon Brando, actor to participate in their “fish-in.” A note of bitterness was sounded at Franks Landing, where the group fished yesterday.

“I’m all for Marlon, I’m a fan of his,” Mrs. McCloud told newsmen.

But when her husband tended his nets in front of Game Department agents, and returned to the shore with two steelhead, Mrs. McCloud said proudly:
“Our men have guts. They don’t need a Marlon Brando in the boat with them.”
Mrs. McCloud exchanged words with Walter Neubrech, chief enforcement officer for the State Game Department, before most Indians arrived.

“You must be Mrs. McCloud,” Neubrech said as he approached her in the fish house. “I’ve heard of you.”

“I’m Walter Neubrech,” he said.

“And I’ve heard of you,” she answered.

“Do you know where Marlon Brando is?” Neubrech asked.

“No, why should I?” Mrs. McCloud replied. “We’re not fighting for the white man’s right to fish. We can’t understand why a white man can go fishing on an Indian river and you don’ t do anything about it.”

“Whom do you mean?” Neubrech said.

“Marlon Brando,” she said.

“We did all we could about that,” Neubrech said. “It was a blow to us, too.”

The Indians made their point-fished in their river and scattered to their homes on the reservation-waiting for the return of the Game Department officials with arrest warrants.

Indians Claim Extension of Fish Rights Near Frank’s Landing On Nisqually
Seattle P.I.
April 21, 1964

OLYMPIA- A group of Indian fishermen claimed today that the Nisqually River near Frank’s Landing, where they work their nets, is a part of the Nisqually Reservation.

Bill Frank Jr., owner of the landing, said that early records clearly show that the area where he and three other Indians set gillnets today was part of the reservation.

Frank, Don McCloud, Jack McCloud and Al Bridges set their nets after posting crudely lettered signs proclaiming “US Gov. Indian Res., No Tres.”

Ellsworth “Buzz” Sawyer, district game protector, said the Frank’s Landing area was not a part of the reservation. He said the boundary was several hundred yards farther upstream. The four Indian who fished today were among a group of six Nisquallies who served 30 days in the Pierce County Jail recently for contempt of court. They were convicted of violating an injunction prohibiting off reservation net fishing by Indians in the river.

Indians are permitted to fish any way they wish within the boundaries of the reservation. Gene Fennimore, a game department patrolman, said the Indians probably would be arrested if they continued to fish the stream.

Frank said that his property was considered part of the reservation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, “except for fishing.”

He claimed that his children were entitled to $200 a year subsidy which reservation Indian children receive for attending school.

Janet McCloud, president of the Association For The Preservation of the American Indian, said that the Indians would continue to fight to save their fishing rights.

She said that the treaty of Medicine Creek, signed in 1855 by the U.S. Government and several Puget Sound Indian tribes, gives the Indians complete rights to fish as they please in their “usual and accustomed grounds.”

“The white men have no fishing rights except what the Indians gave them,” she said.

Mrs. McCloud, Don McCloud’s wife, read from the minutes of the meeting with the Indians that led to the treaty. She claimed that the U.S. government had promised to pay the Indians for their land.

“When are they going to pay?” she demanded. “We haven’t gotten anything yet.”

“Now they are talking about paying for our fishing rights,” she continued. “We haven’t been paid for our land yet.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *